On Sunday morning, local press in casino news reported that MGM China’s Cotai casino in Macau was closed after a dealer was infected with Covid-19. For the next three days, the city tested everyone who resided there.
The news is devastating for the casino business, which has been striving to get back on its feet while adopting a ” Covid zero policy.” By Western standards, even tiny outbreaks have led to significant responses from the government under this policy framework. The last time the city was locked down, three months ago, all casinos were closed.
Inside Asian Gaming states that health workers from the government were at the MGM Cotai location and that no one was permitted to enter or exit the premises. Workers advised visitors on the site that the lockdown may stretch for two days.
In a statement to Reuters, the local government said, “Casinos, hotel workers, and hotel guests will be isolated immediately.” The notification also indicated that all boutiques and restaurants affiliated with the hotel complex would be shuttered.
Restrictions Are Back
With the resumption of e-visas to mainland China last month, it seemed like Macau would slowly start to get back on its feet after Covid. But the center for games has taken another knock, which makes its future look even less clear.
The newest report claims that tight Covid-19 limits have been put back in place by city officials after a few cases were identified at the MGM Cotai casino. Staff and guests were ordered to stay in the casino until November 1. The casino was told to close on Sunday, October 30.
To prevent infections from spreading, casinos should take several health measures, keep very extensive records of what their staff do, and go through many inspections.
After three months without a case in the area, Macau authorities have put a set of Covid-19 limitations in place after a worker at the MGM Cotai casino and hotel was engaged in a new case.
“People from a similar path are reminded to undergo Covid-19 examinations as soon as feasible,” the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) said, as this will assist epidemiological investigations in performing better during the pandemic.
“This is done so that health professionals can locate persons at risk of developing the disease and manage and control infections. This is done to stop and slow the spread of the virus in the population.”
In September, Macau’s casino income was 50% less than it would have been in 2021. This is a lot less than the peak before the epidemic.
Even though some precautions have been reinforced, the governments of Macau and mainland China haven’t declared that they wish to suspend the planned relaxing of visa rules, which was slated to start on Tuesday.
According to Macau’s Chief Executive Ho Iat-Seng, the issuance of online and group visas will raise the number of daily visitors to 40,000.
Seven businesses, including the existing six operators Wynn Macau, Sands China, MGM China, SJM Holdings, Galaxy Entertainment, and Melco Resorts, are waiting for the government to decide on six licenses that will enable them to manage gaming venues starting in 2023. The seventh firm is part of the Genting Group.
The Road To Recovery Halted
Due to COVID-19 constraints, applications must have been made in person for the past two and a half years. According to Channel News Asia, the bureau noted that the COVID-19 situation in Macao was stable and that more people wanted to visit the city; thus, the government decided to give e-visas.
After three months with no coronavirus outbreaks, Macau found its third case. The increased limits could be a setback for gaming sector executives and investors hoping for a speedy turnaround in gambling revenues in the gaming hub.
A message on MGM’s Facebook page notes that the Sunday Oktoberfest event has been canceled because of steps to stem the spread of the epidemic.
Macau follows Covid Zero, which implies any new infections could harm efforts to reopen. Earlier, local media reported that the city had given travel brokers guidelines for restarting group excursions from mainland China.
But the prospects of going to Macau have improved since China’s immigration bureau confirmed on Monday that mainland residents would be able to use an online visa system to visit the former Portuguese enclave starting on November 1.
During this time, the government said that all 700,000 persons living in Macau had to undergo daily quick antigen tests. The casino closing couldn’t have come at a worse moment for operators, who have already been dealing with China’s Zero Covid rules for more than two and a half years, forcing them to lose millions of dollars every month.